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South African Directors And A History Of South African Film

2025 words - 8 pages

To fully understand the legacy of the great South African directors, it is necessary to consider the socio-political climate that has influenced the evolution of film in our country. The acknowledged directorial masters: Manie van Rensberg, Jans Rautenbach, Ross Devenish, Katinka Heyns and Darrell Roodt; were obliged to confront the numerous challenges and obstacles strewn in their path in order to achieve the fame they enjoy today. Before we examine their careers and works, let us conduct a brief overview of the history of South African film.The story of the South African film industry begins some 108 years ago at the conclusion of the nineteenth century. It was the time of the Anglo-Boer War. American and British film pioneers, armed with this new technology, were conducting a private campaign consisting of mobile theatres for viewing in the mining industry and (while the war raged) in the military. Some of the earliest examples of film in South Africa were newsreels recorded on the front lines.The first true motion picture created in South Africa was The Great Kimberely Diamond Robbery of 1910. The film standard from this point out shifted from simple visual chicanery to the dramatic full-length picture. The first Afrikaans film to follow this motion picture drive was De Voortrekkers of 1916. Over 1300 movies have been made in this country since that time!It was in the early 1930s, however, that a major paradigm-shift began to unfold that would have far-reaching consequences for the burgeoning SA film industry. Afrikaner nationalism was taking root, affecting the subject matter and imposing stylistic frameworks for decades to come. With the release of Sarie Marais in 1931, the first SA film created with integral sound, popular public interest began to take hold and the nationalists took note. Independent nationalist-run industries such as RARO (Reddingsdaadbond-Amateur-Rolprent-Organisasie) were created in direct response to the perceived American and British cultural imperialism dominating South African film. The co-operation of the pro-Nationalist government with the passing of the National Censorship Act and the Entertainment Act promoted these ideals and assisted Afrikaner filmmakers in the creation of politicised films.By the 1960s, Apartheid was entrenched in South Africa and the nationalist system had spread to include all aspects of the entertainment industries, including film. It is interesting to note that it was in this era that some of the most controversial (for the time) films were made. 1968 saw the release of Jans Rautenbach's Die Kandidaat and Katrina which examined the institution of Apartheid and questioned those established ideals. Rautenbach and his colleague, Emil Nofal, also collaborated on the film Wild Season, a treatise on the issue of Afrikaner indentity.The 1980s saw the fragmentation of the film industry and a marked decrease in cinema popularity due to the rise of television and a growth in anti-Apartheid...

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